Acts 12:20-25 (NLT)
The Death of Herod Agrippa
Herod the Great was ruler when Jesus was born (Matthew 2:1-16). His grandson is this Herod, Herod Agrippa I. And there is also Herod Antipas, who was there at Jesus’ trials (Luke 23:7-12). Herod Antipas is an uncle to this man, Herod Agrippa I. And later in Acts we will meet Herod Agrippa II, this man’s son. Too many Herods!
20 Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant, 21 and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. 22 The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!”
23 Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.
The ancient Jewish historian Josephus described the death of Herod in gory detail (Antiquities, XIX.8.2).
“He put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came into the theatre early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun’s rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently upon him; and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another (though not for his good), that he was a god . . . A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner . . . when he had been quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life.”
24 Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.
25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned to the church at Antioch, taking John Mark with them.
Acts can be neatly divided into two sections, the first dealing primarily with the ministry of Peter in Jerusalem and Samaria (Acts 1-12) and the second following Paul on his missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire (Acts 13-28). Acts is significant for chronicling the spread of the gospel, not only geographically but also culturally. It records the transition from taking the gospel to an exclusively Jewish audience—with Peter preaching to a small group in the Upper Room—to the gospel going out among the Gentiles, primarily under the ministry of the apostle Paul. The transition is best illustrated by Peter’s vision in which he heard a voice telling him, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (10:15). This led Peter to then share the gospel with many Gentiles. The lesson? God wants His message of hope and salvation to extend to all people—“in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (1:8).
–Charles R. Swindoll
Verse 23 tells us that Herod was struck dead because “he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God.” Let’s join in a song in which we give the glory to God! Two versions of “To God Be the Glory” follow, so take your choice!
HERE is a big production from the Royal Albert Hall, stage choirs and audience. This is the Fanny Crosby hymn.
HERE is Sissel Kyrkjebø, a Norwegian soprano. (The first name ‘Sissel’ is a Norwegian variant of ‘Cecilia,’ from St. Cecilia, the patron saint of church music.) This is the Andre Crouch song, also known as “My Tribute.”